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Mikomeseng: Leprosy, Legitimacy and Francoist Repression in Spanish Guinea

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627
Number of pages647
JournalSOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date3 Nov 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press3 Oct 2017
E-pub ahead of print3 Nov 2017
Published1 Aug 2018

King's Authors

Abstract

The Mikomeseng leprosy settlement in Spanish Guinea (present-day Equatorial Guinea) was widely promoted during the 1940s and 1950s as the embodiment of the Francoist ‘civilizing mission’ in Africa. Its prominence reflected the important role which colonial health and social policy played in establishing the legitimacy of the Franco regime, and particularly in helping to overcome its international isolation in the immediate post-war era. But a major protest by leprosy sufferers in 1946 revealed the everyday violence underpinning life in Mikomeseng, showing how the language of welfare and social justice which pervaded Francoist propaganda masked the reality of a coercive colonial system. The image of Mikomeseng as the embodiment of benevolent colonial rule was constructed by Francoist experts and officials around a brutally repressive institution, one which encapsulated the violence of Spanish colonial rule in West Africa and of the Franco regime as a whole.

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